Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's the little things!

When I'm sick, like a lot of people, I don't have the energy to change out of my PJs, shower or bathe properly (I do it, just not very well), or do much of anything.   Add a four year old and an infant to that and there is no time in between stealing naps when I can and laying on the couch feeling like death.  I've been wearing the same clothes for days.  It's pretty gross, honestly.  Tonight I finally had the time and the energy to take a proper tea tub.  I feel amazing!  My hair is washed and detangled, my skin is clean, I'm wearing clean clothes.  I cannot tell you how much better I feel!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I must apologize...

...For my absence lately.  I've been very ill with a combination of Strep Throat and Tonsillitis that has gone completely crazy.  After 24 hours of antibiotics I am actually feeling worse instead of better.   The infection seems to have spread to my nose and lungs.   The last three days have mostly been spent sleeping.  I will update when I come out of the haze of bacterial infection.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Seven Ways Wednesdays - Seven Ways to "Crunchify" Your Life

In honor of my son, I am presenting Seven Ways Wednesdays. Today is Wednesday the Seventh and my son, Parker was born on Wednesday the Seventh in September of this year. So, to celebrate Parker, and to help myself, and you, my readers, get down and crunchy, I will be posting Seven Ways to Crunchify Your Life every Wednesday until Parker turns the big Oh One!

  1. Try cloth wipes - They save you money, save space in landfills, and are a good way to test the waters before jumping into cloth diapering.
  2. Make your own baby food - You don't need expensive equipment, just a blender, food mill, or food processor; ice cube trays or similar freezer safe containers; and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  3. Wear your baby - Try out a carrier, wrap, or sling and enjoy the benefits of having baby close to you: more hands free time to get stuff done, cuddle time, and a (usually) happier baby!
  4. Diva Cup / Mamma Cloth - Look into alternate, more eco-friendly menstrual management solutions.  Not only are they better for the environment, they're also better for your health and cheaper in the long run.
  5. Try (safe) co sleeping - Check out the co sleeping safety resources on my adventures in co-sleeping page above and spend a night in the family bed.
  6. Trade in your Clorox, Lysol, and Mr Clean for safer, more natural household cleaners - You can make your own, for very little money, with peroxide, baking soda, and vinegar, or you can purchase reasonably priced store versions from brands like Seventh Generation, Method, and 
  7. Check all baby products for BPA - Most bottles and pacifiers are made BPA Free these days but check out your baby's belongings to make sure none snuck there way into your home.
I will be posting seven more easy and inexpensive ways to "Crunchify" your life each week.  Don't forget to subscribe to my blog (via Google Friend Connect, RSS, or Email) so you don't miss any of my tips and ideas.  We will go from the very basic to the very dedicated as the series continues.  




Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Drive-thru Difference. (how my family was blessed in a time of need by a couple that didn't know us at all)

KTIS FM (98.5) is radio station here in the Twin Cities that is doing a program called The Drive-thru Difference.  Basically, people can print cards off their website, and when they go through a drive-through, they pay for the meal of the person behind them and tell the cashier to give the person one of the cards.  The card talks about the radio station and the drive-thru difference, asking the recipient to pay it forward if they are able.  I was recently the recipient of one of these cards (and a free meal) and it came at a very trying time for our family.  They ask you, on the card, to call in or go to their website and share your story.  I'm a horrible procrastinator, but it was important to me to share my story, so today I went to their website and sent them the story below.




On November 18th, 2011, my family and I were going through the McDonalds drive through on Suburban Avenue on the east side of St Paul.  We were very worried about how much money we were spending on the food, when a lovely couple in a teal/blue colored vehicle in front of us paid for our meal.  The cashier handed us the Drive-thru Difference card and I almost started crying. 

You see, my family has been going through some hard times lately.  In December of last year, I became pregnant with my second child.  In February, my fiance lost his job.  In August, I lost mine.  My child was born with some health problems that left him in the Special Care Nursery after I was sent home.  He's doing well now, but, even with a new job for my fiance, we aren't doing the best financially.  Our daughter has started preschool this year, which costs money, and I'm sure everyone knows how much money a new baby can take up.

The day that these wonderful people paid for our meal, we were super stressed out about money, hadn't received our food stamps for the month yet, and were worried about where our next meal was coming from.  The drive through lunch was a big deal for us as we were only spending the money because it was my birthday.   I wanted to enjoy the day with my daughter, son, fiance, and best friend.  The amazing people who paid for our meal REALLY did make a difference in our lives.  It probably was a small sacrifice for them, but it was a huge blessing for us!


PS:  For those of you wondering, McDonalds is an occasional treat for us.  If you're wondering what a vegetarian gets at McDonalds...  ranch snack wraps with no meat add diced onions, a Reese's McFlurry, and a small fry.

Do Realistic Attachment Parents Exist? (or are they all birth, car seat, and breastfeeding nazis?)

After a lot of thought and a lot of debating, I've decided that I need to change the focus of this blog.  I've spent so much of my life not being myself, not being true to myself, at all, and it needs to stop.  I need at least one aspect of my life (other than with my kids, they always love me for me) where I can be ME and this is it. 

For the past week or so, my heart hasn't been into writing.  I feel as if I am merely going through the motions, recycling the same old thing that's on every attachment parenting, natural parenting, or green mom blog.  I sat down and thought about what makes me unique.  And, as I was writing a blog post (coming soon, I promise) about car seat safety, I realized...

I may be an attachment focused parent.  I may breastfeed, cloth diaper, use cloth wipes (and occasionally "the family cloth"), eat vegetarian, babywear, cosleep, and never ever ever spank my kids.  I may even have a son who is lucky because I left him intact.

But I am not fanatical.   

  • I'm not ridiculously overprotective (even when I want to be).
  • I take long baths, even though I know it's not great, I reduce my carbon footprint in other ways, like not eating meat (which is something that even some of the most hardcore green, natural living people can't seem to give up).
  • I did not have a medication free homebirth.  I not only had a C Section, but it was PLANNED and I demanded it.  That was my way of owning my own birth. I will do it again (and probably again after that).  The only thing that I dislike about this method of birthing is that I can only have four children.  Otherwise, it's my ideal method of delivering babies.
  • I don't always eat organic. Mostly because I can't afford to.
  • I didn't keep my daughter in a rear facing car seat until the age of 13 (in fact I was counting down the days until I could turn her around).
  • Even though I believe that "breast is best", I have no urge to gang up on women who chose to formula feed.  It's their choice.  I may not think it's the right choice, but it's not my choice to make.  I fed my daughter formula because she had major reflux which was affected by breastmilk, as well as some other formulas.  We give Parker one or two bottles of formula a day, not only so that his dad can enjoy feeding him, but so I can have a break once in a while.  We love our breastfeeding relationship, and I refuse to give it up (especially the night feedings), but once in a while it's nice to be able to hand him to Nate and go read a book in the teatub (bath in our family).
  • I don't wear my baby in the house constantly.  I wear him a lot.  I was babywearing when babywearing was only cool on the east coast.  Back when your only choice was Baby Bjorn and they were ridiculously expensive.  But I don't wear him all over the house.  I really do want to wear him more at home, but sometimes it's just not practical.  Like this one time... when I was doing laundry...  let's just say he wasn't a fan of being squished between his short mommy and the washer.
  • While I generally follow safe cosleeping practices, I don't have just a mattress, with no boxspring, on the floor.  I did that when I was poor and pregnant with my daughter and couldn't afford a mattress, I'm not about to go back to it.  I've gone through the trouble of making sure there are no spaces between the mattress and the wall that baby can fall into so I think that's adequate. 
  • I don't think television is evil.  I think it can be bad when children watch TV and play video games and never go outside or move around and exercise.  But it scares me that some moms talk about secondhand TV watching.  Really?  TV is not like cigarette smoke.  It can't "come and get" your child.  Having a TV on in the background in the room where your child is wont turn your child into a big, dumb, fat, blob of stupid.  I promise.  My daughter has had plenty of exposure to TV and she's ridiculously gifted, always outside playing and running around, and she's actually underweight (her dad has can't-gain-weight genes.  Yes, I do hate him because of it.)  It's how you utilize the television and how often that matters.
  • Similarly, I let my four year old watch the X Files.  She likes it, it doesn't desensitize her, and even though she gets scared, it's scary in a fun way for her.  Just because you like scary stuff doesn't mean you're desensitized and are going to become a serial killer.  There are some things I wont allow her to watch, but I'm not crazy protective about it.  Eventually she'll get to the age where she'll find a way to watch it anyway and that age really isn't that far off.
  • I don't believe mothers need to be slaves to their children in order to practice attachment parenting.  Some moms let themselves be guilted into servitude in an effort to attach.  My children and I are ridiculously attached.  I've lost a lot of friends because of my desire to spend most of my time with my children.  However, I also carve out some time for myself every day.  I was a person before I had children and I will be a person after they move out.  Some of you may be confused and I hate to break the bad news- your children will someday move out of your home- and if they don't you probably did something wrong. (Of course there are always special circumstances...)  
  • On a similar note,  I absolutely HATE mothers who ONLY talk about their children.  I call them Zombie Moms.  Don't get me wrong, I talk about my children probably 90% of the time, but that other 10% I'm talking about my hobbies and interests and dreams and goals.  Some of which do NOT involve my children.  I believe that if the only aspect of your personality is the fact that you're a mom, you need to get a hobby.  I'm not saying you shouldn't talk about your kids, because I do that way more than I should myself, I'm simply saying that it's a problem if you can't find anything else to talk about.  If all you are is a mom, then your husband might start looking elsewhere for stimulating conversation.  You need to be that sexy, unforgettable, incredible, brilliant woman he fell in love with once in a while. (I've chosen Wednesdays for these occasions.  After Criminal Minds is over of course.)
  • Lastly, I hate it when parents are ridiculously out of touch.  Do they really not remember being that age?  I remember being every age (except, obviously, younger than 2) and I think it helps to look back to how you felt about certain things when you were that age.  Granted, some times you were wrong, but sometimes your parents were too.  This tends to repeat itself.
I'm sure there are many more examples I could give you, but I'll stop rambling and summarize the whole point of this post.

I'm sick of trying to fit into a circle when I am entirely square.  I definitely am a crazy, crunchy, attachment parenting, trying-to-be-more-green mom.  But I refuse to give up, not only who I am, but also, good old fashioned common sense, in order to fit in to a niche.

So I will share thoughts on attachment parenting and crunchiness from my own perspective, even though it might be a little less breastfeeding-cloth diapering-car seat-birth nazi than some other blogs.

If we want other women to listen to us, and to adopt some of these ideas, and to spread the word about our causes, we need to be less in-your-face and more realistic.  Not every woman can afford an extended height and/or weight five point harness car seat.   Some women are simply not able to breastfeed.  Not everyone cherishes the idea of sleeping on the floor.  There are women who really DO NOT want to forgo medication during childbirth and who feel safer giving birth with a doctor present. 

There are varying degrees of crunchiness, and I absolutely abhor the idea of shoving my ideas and beliefs down other peoples throats.  With things I'm really passionate about, like not circumcising or vegetarianism, I try to bring the good points out first, and then hit the negatives.  No one likes to be yelled at and told they're a bad mother.  When we attack women for doing things differently (using a car seat slightly wrong, formula feeding, circumcising, or getting an epidural) we only make ourselves look fanatical and crazy (like Tom Cruise talking about psychiatry).  It's not going to make others listen to us, it's going to make others shut us out.  If we really want to get our message out, we need to stop demanding that our way is best, like a bitchy little clique, and instead show them that our way is open to all and adaptable.

"This above all, To Thine Own Self Be True."
- Polonius (Hamlet - Act 1 - Scene 3 - Line 78)


I am very much open to comments and criticisms in my comments.  I am all about the debate, so if you so desire, feel free to bring it on.  Those who agree with me, I would love to hear from you as well.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Healthy & Homemade Pet Food


Dylan (left) and Squishy (right)
wait impatiently for their lunch.

Today we ran out of pet food.  We're short on money until Monday, so I went to my wise uncle who always has all the answers to every question I could possibly need to ask.  Uncle Google told me that I could make my own pet food out of meat, eggs, grains, and vegetables. 

So I grabbed the steak Nate bought months ago out of the freezer, cooked it up to a nice medium rare and added brown rice, hard boiled eggs, and carrots.

Voila!

Tasty, healthy, high protein pet food! The best part is that you actually know what's in it, unlike with some of the discount pet foods at the grocery store. Considering my cats jumped up on the counter and started eating the food as I was stirring it all together, I would say it was a hit! My dog finished his bowl in record time and we had to put him outside so he wouldn't eat the cats food too.

Here is the recipe I used:
  • 2 pounds beef steak cut into small pieces and cooked medium rare.
  • 8 eggs, hardboiled.
  • 1 can sliced carrots.
  • A medium sauce pan full of brown rice (cooked).

I put everything (except the rice) through a blender until it was the consistency of a grainy mix.   I blended half of the rice into a rough puree and then mixed the non blended rice with the blended rice. I then mixed half the rice with the rest of the ingredients. You need to make sure you mix it well as some animals will pick the pieces they want and leave the rest. 

I gave some of that mixture as is to the cats and added some of the extra rice to the dogs bowl as dogs need more grains than cats. I refrigerated the unused portion. Make sure you cover it well as partly rare steak and eggs do not smell good together.

NoCans.com has some great cat and dog food recipes, as well as recipes for treats.  I checked out their recipes to get the basic idea (as well as their list of foods that pets can't have) and then created my own recipe using what I had on hand.

I think we will be making more home cooked meals for our pets as its healthier for them and I will actually know what's going into my furbabies mouths!

Plankton sleeping off his
large bowl of yum-yums.
PS:  He's totally a Momma's Boy

Santa Claus is coming to town... via email.



Santa has an email address. 

I know this because I made it for him.

Last year, due to overenthusiastic eggnog consumption by the elves in the Wii making department, Santa had to write Aria an I.O.U. (until tax return time... not sure why) for the gaming console she so desperately wanted.  He emailed it to us.

Why did he email us? Because yours truly overslept Christmas morning.  That is also why Santa left all the presents in momma's room. 

My major parenting fail last Christmas had two good outcomes.
 
1.  I have definitely stepped up my holiday mythical archetype game.  The Easter Bunny managed to deliver the goods while we were in the basement (for a period of about five minutes) looking at something or another.  Now Aria refers to the Bunny as "totally, really a ninja!"

2.  Santa has come into the technology age with email capabilities.

With a quick flick of my carpal tunnely wrists, kriskringlex@gmail.com was born.  (Santa likes his online presence on the emo side.)  My daughter is very excited to email Santa her wishlist this year.  I am excited to not only have her wishlist in actual list form, but also to be able to look back on her wishlists a few years from now when the big jolly guy has lost his magic.

Thankfully I have another child to lie to for several years. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

PETA Reveals New Holiday Themed Breastfeeding Billboard.


PETA has unveiled this new ad just in time for the holidays.  

Below is an excerpt from a piece mlive.com posted about the new billboards--->
(click the link to read their full article)

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"""PETA officials said they are in negotiations with outdoor advertisers in Paw Paw to bring the “holiday-themed, head-turning billboard” within close proximity to the Van Buren County Courthouse.

PETA officials said they hope the billboard will “serve as a reminder that breast milk is healthier for infants than dairy formula and that dairy products in any form are cruel to mother cows and their calves.”



The incident that has caught PETA's attention occurred Nov. 8 in District Judge Robert Hentchel's courtroom. Natalie Hegedus, 32, of Mattawan, said she was discreetly feeding her 5-month-old son in the back of the courtroom when Hentchel called her out and asked her if she thought what she was doing was appropriate.

Hegedus, who said she was in court that day for a hearing on a contempt of court charge, contends that was embarrassed by Hentchel's comments and that she did nothing wrong by feeding her son, who was hungry and sick."""

---------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm a vegetarian and PETA supporter myself (though I still eat dairy products- and my daughter was formula fed), and I really love this new billboard ad.  While I definitely believe formula has its place, it is widely accepted that Breast Is Best.  Breastfeeding in public is an issue that I'm very passionate about, and I'm glad that this incident has caught national attention.  Women should feel comfortable breastfeeding wherever they need to.  Just because it's legal almost everywhere, doesn't mean it isn't still looked down on.  


We need to stand up and fight for the normalization of breastfeeding!


What do you think?  Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below.

Lush Aromarant Deodorant Review

My first video for the Crunchy Moms YouTube channel is a review of Aromarant Deodorant by Lush.



Friday, November 25, 2011

They just said my son's name on television. (aka I love BONES)

I love the TV show Bones.  I love it so much that I named my son after one of the shows characters.  Granted, Parker is a minor character (He's the son of David Boreanaz's character, Booth, for those of you who don't follow it.  He's only been in a handful of episodes.), but I love the name and I love the show.

I'm currently watching an episode of Bones on Hulu right now.  They were talking about a particular toy and Booth said, "Parker loves those," and I was confused for a moment.

It's so weird hearing my sons name said on television.  Even though I named him after a character on this exact show.

It happens a lot with my daughter too, "Aria" tends to get said a lot, especially in movies or shows referring to opera.  But this is the first time it happened with my son's name.

Have you ever been weirded out for a minute when hearing your child's name on television or in a movie?  Feel free to share in the comments below.


This One...

Inspired This One.

An (Unwanted) Break From Cloth Diapers (why I'll never go back to disposables)

Disposable diapers smell like pee.

All.   The.  Time.

I never really noticed until today.  All of our cloth was in the wash (due to the Great Cloth Diaper Stink Experiment) so we pulled out the 'sposies.  So gross.  We've been using cloth for a while now and we've gotten used to super absorbent, pee-smell-free diapers.

I also didn't realize how much we have cut down on actual diaper changes since switching to cloth.  Parker goes for 2-3 hours or so in a cloth diaper.  In a disposable he lasts about an hour before the pee smell sets in and he needs to be changed.

Needless to say, I will not be trading in my Subaby and Bum Genius diapers for Pampers or Huggies any time soon.

I prefer my son to smell like baby, not like pee.

The Great Cloth Diaper Stink Experiment & Laundry Detergent Giveaway {Part Three}

Welcome to part {{THREE}} of The Great Cloth Diaper Stink Experiment!

This installment includes diaper drama, bubbly badness, and a daring feat called "The Sniff Test".

After my initial assessments of the three laundry detergents, I dove right in and got started.  I divided my diapers and liners into three groups and paired each group with one of the three detergents.





Pink and Purple Diapers and Plain Liners
+
Thirsties Super Wash





Blue and Green Diapers and Wonderfulls Liners
+
Rockin' Green Classic Rock






Red, Yellow, and Orange Diapers and Liners with Buttons
+
Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder




After the first rinse, there were tons of bubbles from my previous detergent (all small and mighty free and clear).  I always rinse at least three times after the wash cycle so I was kind of surprised to find this much residue coming out.  Look at all those bubbles!



Gross right?  


I decided to judge the detergents based on the results of a these different tests:

The Sniff Test 
(after washing is complete)

The Second Sniff Test 
(after drying is complete)

The Pee Test 
(Does the diaper stink as soon as anything wet hits it?)

The Softness Test
(how the diaper feels after being washed)

The Absorbency Test
(Does the diaper/liner soak up wetness or repel it?)



Check Back Soon to find out how each detergent did when put up against my strict standards and super hero sense of smell!

And don't forget to check out Part One to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a package of the winning detergent!





The trio of cloth cleansers donated to the cause by All Things Diapers



The Great Cloth Diaper Stink Experiment
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I adore my readers and hope you feel the same way about me.  


Please sign up for your very own free email subscription or follow me by joining Crunchy Moms using the handy dandy links at the top right hand corner of this page.  


You can also follow me on Twitter, or check out my YouTube channel.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Download Drama (aka my daughter charged $40 worth of fishbucks to our phone bill on the Android Market to play TapFish)

Do you have a fish tank on your Android phone? A farm on Facebook? Have you become a little addicted to Angry Birds?

I'm sure there are a lot of you raising your hands or hiding behind your computer screens right now.  Apps are fun and best of all, most of them are free.  Of course they have the option to buy extra credits or coins or fishbucks, but they really aren't necessary to play.
Would someone please tell that to my four year old?

Miss Aria was playing TapFish on my beautiful Android phone (I love this phone almost as much as I love my cats), when she decided she wanted to buy a mermaid.  We didn't have enough FishBucks to buy the mermaid so she so thoughtfully got us some more. 

Forty dollars worth to be exact. Charged to our phone bill.

Yipee!

At least I got the mermaid though.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How do I get any work done with a baby and a (jealous) four year old?

Today has been an interesting day.  Parker, my 11 week old, is teething (at least I'm fairly certain he's teething), drooling everywhere, running a bit of a fever, and is about as cranky as a baby can be.  Aria, my four year old daughter, is in full blown jealousy mode.  She whines and complains about the amount of time I spend feeding and holding her brother.

My question of the day...

How do I get any work done in this situation?  How do you guys do it?  How do you handle jealousy between siblings?  And how do you handle teething?

Please feel free to share suggestions and ideas in the comments below.



----------------------------------------
I adore my readers and hope you feel the same way about me.  

Please sign up for your very own free email subscription or follow me by joining Crunchy Moms using the handy dandy links at the top right hand corner of this page.  

You can also follow me on Twitter, or check out my YouTube channel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Show My Boobs In Public! (Why I refuse to cover up while breastfeeding in public no matter how much other women want me to!)

 Fun-bags.     Boobies.     Jugs.     Tig Ole Bitties.     Knockers.     Dirty pillows.


Whatever you call them, they're definitely a big (and sometimes just-a-handful sized) deal.
  
Whether you're being poked in the face with naughty magazine spreads, watching a Lady Gaga video, walking for breast cancer, chillin' at the club, or sitting in a high school classroom... BOOBS ARE EVERYWHERE!


Americans love boobs more than we love Apple Pie, Baseball, and Jesus all combined!  And why wouldn't we?  They're fun to touch, fun to look at, and fun to jiggle.


But much to the dismay of the average American, they're also for feeding babies.  


In America, the sight of a woman (or teenage girl) walking down the street with her lady lumps hanging out for everyone to see is a fairly normal, and fairly celebrated, occurance.  But when those breasts are feeding a baby in public it's a whole new ballgame.


When my son was born, I said I would nurse in public, under the protection of a nursing cover or blanket.  I, for one, was going to have no problem with nursing in public.  If people didn't like it, I would simply point towards the blanket as a silent explanation of decency.


After the first two times I breastfed my son in public, under that soft yet awkward baby blanket, I just gave up.  I quit.  I was not dealing with that blanket anymore.  So I did what made the most sense to me.


I switched to formula?  No.
I switched to expressed milk in bottles?  NO.
I hid away in bathrooms and changing stations?  NO!!!


I simply sat down in a comfortable location, pulled out one of the twins (who I have affectionately named Daisy and Duke), and stuck it in my sons mouth.


That's it.  Cumbersome blanket problem solved.  


I breastfed in my local WIC office, not too big of a deal since there were posters of mothers breastfeeding on the wall.  I breastfed at the bank, also not a huge thing.  I breastfed at the playground, no one really noticed.  I breastfed at the Children's Museum, other mothers smiled, as did some of the younger kids.


And then I breastfed in Target.  We were shopping for teething rings and nose suckers when my son, uncomfortable from his runny nose and sore gums, wanted to be fed.  And he wanted to be fed NOW!  So I pulled down the strap of my tank top and my bra and quickly pulled him in to latch on.  My arm was around his neck and shoulders and my sweater covered a lot.  But, as I was walking around and not sitting somewhere quietly, I was noticed.  And...


I was laughed at.  


Yes, laughed at.  Three women coming in to the store took one look at me and all began laughing and not-quite-whispering to each other.  My first instinct was to make a comment about how they wouldn't be laughing when their children were sick, clutching their formula bottles with germ filled hands.  But I took the high road.  Which, by the way, is very hard for me.  I choked down the snarky comments that were rising into the back of my throat and I simply shot them my biggest, brightest, megawatt smile.  And I felt great.  No shame, no embarrassment, no blushing.  I was feeding my baby and I didn't care what they thought.


I felt very empowered after this incident and knew I would have no problem breastfeeding in public from then on.  


And then I went to the Mall of America.  My family, my best friend, and I went to Sealife USA at the Mall of America for my 29th birthday.  Because I am a child at heart.  Also, we're pretty broke at the moment and we have a membership (bought for my future marine veterinarian daughter for her birthday last year), so it was free.  We went to Lush (pretty much my favorite store at MOA) and then went to Build-A-Bear (pretty much my daughters favorite store EVER).  


While my daughter was combing through the racks of lilliputian stuffed animal clothing, my son began to cue that it was time to eat.  So, my best friend, Taylor, and I made our way out to the comfy couch-like sitting area just outside of the store.  I sat down on the farthest edge of one of the cushions.  Even though I have no problem breastfeeding in public, I still don't want to shove the girls in peoples faces- other than my sons- (and, in other ways, my fiances) so I usually try to find a spot that isn't right smack next to other people.  Apparently my courtesy went unnoticed, but my breasts didn't.


Even though I was turned away from her, the woman sitting next to me made a big showy deal of turning around so she couldn't see me.  Which really didn't make sense as she turned around every few seconds to look at me.  She began "whispering" to her friend about how disgusting it was that I was nursing my son in *Gasp* public!  According to Taylor, they continued to "whisper" and to look over at me with disgusted, smirky faces the entire time I was feeding my son.


REALLY?


In my admittedly short experience breastfeeding in public (my son is at the ripe old age of eleven weeks), I've noticed that it is usually women of childbearing age that are the most offended, shocked, and disgusted by a woman breastfeeding her baby.  


:: Older women and men smile or nod at me.


:: Men in their 20s, 30s, and 40s usually smile or don't respond at all.


:: Teenage girls just want to look at my baby because he's "sooooo (insert squeal) cute!"


:: Teenage boys don't really pay any attention, although I have caught a couple stealing a second glimpse, probably not of the baby, but not in a gross or obvious way.


:: Children don't seem to notice and the very rare ones that do smile at me.  Perhaps because they miss their nursing days themselves?


::  One security guard looked confused, like he wasn't sure what to do, or if what I was doing was allowed, but he didn't say anything.


:: My fiance (who fathered both of my children in case anyone is wondering), who is normally very shy and easily embarrassed, isn't bothered by it.


::  My son, who loves his Momma Milk, smiles and his whole face lights up whenever I pull one of the girls out.


But women, WOMEN have the problem.  Childbearing aged women.  These are the people who are the most likely to be right next to me, nursing their own children.  But instead they make comments, whisper, and act shocked and disgusted.  What's wrong with this picture?  


I can't help but wonder, if I were to take a survey of the women who have reacted negatively, how many of them bottle fed and feel guilty about it? (I personally fed my daughter formula and have no regrets or issues with bottle feeding, so please don't think that I'm trying to start a breastfeeding mafia war.  I am definitely not.)  


I wonder how many of them are fighting the little green monster, not having their own children yet?  I wonder if they don't have children yet because they scare away every man they meet with their negative, snarky attitudes and obviously low self esteem.


And, I'm sure, due to America's view that the breasts are purely sexual toys and objects of gratification, some of the women feel dirty even thinking about using their own breasts for such purposes.  


I wonder how many would react that way if I were a small chested woman?  Perhaps the fact that I have E cups and not A cups makes my nursing my son in public pornographic?    Or maybe they just want my bra size.  Either way, this is a factor I'm definitely interested in investigating.


Most of the people who have witnessed me nursing my son have not commented or reacted in any way.  Even though they might be thinking certain negative thoughts, they don't speak them or show them on their faces.  But these women made comments and attempted, unsuccessfully, to make me feel embarrassed and shamed.  Why must women constantly tear each other down?  


We should all be supporting a woman's right to use her body to feed her child anywhere that she pleases.  Women were given breasts (by God, by evolution, by whomever or whatever you personally choose to believe in) for two little reasons, and one big one.


:: For sexual pleasure.
:: To look great in clothes.


And the biggie, the most important, functional reason of all...


::  To feed their young.


Humans are mammals and mammals produce milk to feed their young.  While we may be the only mammals to derive sexual pleasure from our breasts, we are still mammals and our breasts were given to us to feed our offspring.


When my cat, Penny, had kittens, she not only breastfed her babies, she breastfeed them in public (well, our living room), she breastfed in front of the other cats and people without feeling embarrassed, and she breastfed for an extended period of time. (Have you ever seen a cat nursing a kitten that is almost the same size as her?  I have.  I will admit, it was a little weird... imagine breastfeeding your 16 year old.)  She didn't whip out little kitten sized bottles and mix up a can of Enfakitty or Simmeowlac.  She didn't hide under the bed (though she did give birth there) while she nursed.  She didn't crawl under a blanket to nurse in private.  She did what nature intended and NURSED her babies, out in the open, no matter who was watching.


I will be like my cat, Penny.  I will nurse when I want, where I want, when my child says it's time.  I won't put off feeding him, hide away in a dirty bathroom stall, hide under a blanket (which seems to draw more attention anyway), or lug around bottles of formula or expressed milk.  


I will pull out my Dirty Pillows (I love you, Stephen King), offer them to my child, and let him eat the food nature intended.  And I will be proud of my breasts.  They nourish my son, they are a comfortable place for my daughter to rest her head when she's upset, and they keep me warm on a Minnesota winter night.  


I'm not saying all women should breastfeed in public.  Some just won't feel comfortable, and that's ok.  I'm saying we should be able to do what we want with our own breasts (within the confines of the law of course- most states have laws in place protecting breastfeeding in public) and feed our children anytime and anywhere we want.


So if you and your child feel so inclined, show your boobs in public, and be proud!









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Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Great Cloth Diaper Stink Experiment & Giveaway! {Part Two}

In my last post I told you about how the beautiful and generous people at All Things Diapers gave me three different types of cloth diaper safe laundry detergent to conduct an intense experiment.

The goal:  rid my diapers of stink.

The contenders:


Rockin' Green Classic Rock, Thirsties Super Wash, Charlie's Soap

I rated the three detergents on several preliminary tests before I began the actual experiment.  The initial tests were: Packaging (aesthetics), Packaging (ease of use), Looks (the detergent itself), Smells, Ingredients (how many of the ingredients are listed), and Ingredients (what the ingredients actually are).



And without further delay...




Rockin' Green Classic Rock

Packaging (aesthetics) :: 5 points.  
Let's face it, it's a super shiny package and it's got great marketing.  

Packaging (ease of use) :: 3 points.
The zipper bag is cute but hard to close when the detergent gets in the zipper and it didn't come with a scoop.  Luckily, I purchased a pretty little hot pink scoop that has magnets inside to stick to your washing machine (everything gets lost with a four year old in the house) from All Things Diapers.

Looks ::  4 points
The detergent looks like fluffy white snow so it's definitely pretty but it also doesn't scream "cleans your clothes" to me when I look at it.

Smells :: 4 points
I chose the Smashing Watermelons scent for my own use, which smells amazing, but, since the other two detergents are unscented, I felt it wouldn't be fair to rate them against a scented detergent.  So I used a sample packet of Rockin' Green Bare Naked Babies (unscented) for this test.  It smells a little like soap, but not really chemically.

Ingredients (listed) :: 5 points.
This detergent lists ALL of its ingredients, which isn't very common.

Ingredients (actual) :: 5 points.
:: sodium carbonate , sodium percarbonate, natural chelating agents, sodium sulfate, bio-degradable surfactants, fragrance oils (if scented is chosen)::


The Annoying Zipper Bag.


Looks like pure clean snow.

The cutest hot pink magnetic laundry scoop ever!




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Charlie's Soap


Packaging (aesthetics) :: 4 points.  
It's plainer than the other two and looks like it would be marketed more towards men than women.  It doesn't look like something I would look at and think, "Hey, this would be great for my baby's diapers."  But it still has a pleasing look in it's own way.  

Packaging (ease of use) :: 4 points.
It has an easy screw off lid and a little green scoop that is just the right size.  It could be spilled easily though so I took off one little point.

Looks ::  5 points
It definitely looks like it would clean anything pretty well.  It has that polished look.  It's hard to explain what I mean, but you'd get it once you look at it.  By looks alone, I feel the most confident in this one to actually clean my diapers.

Smells :: 2 points
It smells like Windex, which honestly freaks me out a bit.

Ingredients (listed) :: 3 points.
It has some of the ingredients listed, but not all.

Ingredients (actual) :: 2 points.
Some of them seem natural, but I've heard too many things about the non listed ingredients to feel comfortable giving this a higher score.




Perfect Sized Green Scoop.



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Thirsties Super Wash


Packaging (aesthetics) :: 5 points.  
It's liquid in a clear bottle with a pretty little spring time themed label.  The colors and flowers and grass on the label definitely say, "Diapers & Baby Butts".

Packaging (ease of use) :: 5 points.
It has a measuring cup built in.  You take the cap off the measuring cup side and squeeze it to fill it to the right level.  I tried every possible thing I could think of to get this to spill more than the right amount and I couldn't.  It's actually a really good system.  And no scoops or cups to lose.

Looks ::  3 points
It looks like water.  That doesn't instill confidence in me.

Smells :: 4 points
It smells like water with a tiny bit of soap in it.

Ingredients (listed) :: .5 points.
Yes, that's point five points.  There are no ingredients listed on the label AT ALL.  I only gave the half a point because some of them are listed on the website.

Ingredients (actual) :: 3 points.
Most of the ingredients are natural and sound wonderful, but they aren't all listed so I can't be 100% sure.



The best measuring system EVER!



Tomorrow, I will post the results of the first and second washes.

Don't forget to read the first in this series The Great Diaper Stink Experiment {Part One} to enter the giveaway!  One lucky reader will win a package of the winning detergent, courtesy of All Things Diapers.


The Great Cloth Diaper Stink Experiment

----------------------------------------
I adore my readers and hope you feel the same way about me.  


Please sign up for your very own free email subscription or follow me by joining Crunchy Moms using the handy dandy links at the top right hand corner of this page.  


You can also follow me on Twitter, or check out my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Great Cloth Diaper Stink Experiment & Detergent Giveaway! {Part One}

I love to research things (anything really) and my adventure into cloth diapering has been no different.  I looked into cloth diaper safe laundry detergent, reading reviews and charts and recommendations until I dreamt of laundry detergent dancing like faries around my head.

I started with the, not prefered but fairly well rated, All Small & Mighty Free & Clear.  I thought it was too good to be true to find a detergent that was less than $5 and sold at pretty much any store.  It was.  It did an ok job of cleaning fairly clean clothes and baby blankets, but not such a good job getting the stink out of my baby, Parker's, diapers.

Not so Mighty afterall!


And so, after a few rounds with All, the inevitable has happened.

I've got stink. 

The as-soon-as-any-liquids-touch-the-liner-the-diaper-and-baby-stink-like-an-ammonia-poop-smoothie kind of stink. 

Martin at AllThingsDiapers was wonderful enough to donate one package of each of the three laundry detergents he sells at his store, which is both a brick & mortor and online store.  All Things Diapers also runs a diaper service that was rated best diaper service by Minnesota Monthly.  They have layaway, a rewards program, and a crazy huge selection of diapers, diaper accessories, baby carriers, beautiful baby wraps, laundry detergents, wet bags, diaper pails... I could go on and on.  One look at the website and I was busy making a wishlist a mile long! 

And then I went to the store.

Heaven!  That is the only way to describe All Things Diapers.  They have a truly great selection of carriers and wraps, with demos so you can try them out for yourself.  Parker was super happy being worn in the beautiful blue and green Wrapsody Bali Breeze, and Liz, an incredibly sweet and helpful employee, showed me a new carry.

And then I learned about all the classes, workshops, and get togethers they host.  They do in store demos and really help their customers make the right choices for each individual.  They also have a lending library, which I, the bookworm, HAD to try out. 

Overall, All Things Diapers is a beautifully designed store (complete with private changing and nursing areas and a rocking chair in the middle of the store so you can check out their offerings and calm your baby at the same time) with a great inventory and kind and super helpful employees.  Their excellent customer service and wonderful donation will go a long way in making sure this experiment is successful.


So, on to business...




The Great Diaper Stink Experiment will go as follows:




. I will divide my diapers and liners into three groups.


. I will use one of each of the three brands of detergent on one specific group for a period of two months.


. I will make note of the different aspects of each detergent and rate them on each aspect accordingly.


. I will also make note of which group smells freshest after each wash cycle.


. I will report frequently on the data I have gathered from the experiment.


. At the end of the first month I will declare a favorite and one lucky reader will win a package of that detergent.


. I will do a follow up a month after that to conclude the experiment.

The brands I will be testing are...

Rockin' Green Classic Rock, Thirsties Super Wash, and Charlie's Soap.


Stay tuned for more exciting adventures in (hopefully soon-to-be-gone) stink!  Don't forget to follow this blog (by email, rss, or through google connect) and like  All Things Diapers on Facebook and comment below to be entered for a chance to win a package of the winning detergent!  

Don't forget to comment below to finalize your entry!

The Great Cloth Diaper Stink Experiment

----------------------------------------
I adore my readers and hope you feel the same way about me.  


Please sign up for your very own free email subscription or follow me by joining Crunchy Moms using the handy dandy links at the top right hand corner of this page.  


You can also follow me on Twitter, or check out my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Attachment Parents & Helicopter Parents: Not Necessarily One In The Same

I love attachment parenting.  I love cuddling with my four year old when she's having a bad day.  I love sleeping next to my 8 week old at night.  I'm terrified of SIDS.  I'm also terrified something bad will happen to my kids, even if it's just a scraped knee. 

But I'm not so terrified that I don't let them out of my sight.

A not-so-new and not-so-fun trend in parenting is Helicopter Parenting.  Imagine a parent hovering over their child constantly, even into the college years, taking care of every problem the child ever has.  That is helicopter parenting.  And it's something I am against entirely, possibly more than I am against letting babies "cry it out".

At least with cry it out (which I desperately hate) parents are giving their children breathing room.  The helicopters don't.  It starts with never leaving baby alone, even for a second, because they might roll off the blanket on the floor onto the actual floor, pick up a stray piece of dirt or cat hair, put it in their mouth, possibly even swallow it, get incredibly sick, and/or die.  It ends with parents sitting in on post-college job interviews with their kids and then calling the company to yell at them for not hiring sweet little Johnnykins.  After all, mommy was there during the interview and saw how wonderfully Johnnykinsybabywabysweetiepie did answering those questions (after turning to mom to figure out how to answer first of course). 

These things really happen.  There are parents that end up at job interviews with their 22 year old "kids".  And it starts out of fear.  I'm no stranger to fear.  I have severe (albeit treated) OCD.  I'm terrified that my kids will die if I don't use exactly 9 squares of toilet paper.  I feel the most comfortable when my children sleep in my bed with me so I know that if anything happens I will be right next to them.  But I know that a lot of my fears are irrational. 

As Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids often points out, crime is actually DOWN since most parents were kids (I'm a bit younger than a lot of parents so I'm not sure if those statistics fit me).  And it's common knowledge that most child abductions and child sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the child KNOWS.  Yet we live in a world of fear.  Parents accompany their kids outside to play and stay within two feet of them at all times in their own back yards.  Parents drive their kids to school so that they aren't subjected to peer pressure, bullying, or the male driver (because all men are child molesters) on the bus.  Parents don't let their children play with their friends across the street because obviously a 10 year old has no concept of how dangerous cars are and will dart right out into traffic if mommy or daddy isn't paying constant, vigilant, attention.

How does this relate to crunchy, attachment parenting parents?  When you think about attachment parenting and some of the crunchier practices that often go right along with it, it's a fairly easy gateway to helicopter parenting.  Making sure children aren't exposed to toxins, breastfeeding to prevent illness, babywearing, and co sleeping can all lead to overprotective parenting.  You keep your children so close as babies and toddlers it's hard to stop when they get older. 

The reason children are born, grow, and get older is to eventually turn into adults.  The reason we (well I hope this is the reason) choose attachment parenting is to develop a good relationship with our children, to make sure they feel secure and safe, and so that they (hopefully) grow into well adjusted, productive, happy adults.  While being close to your children is important in their upbringing, so is letting them have freedom to make mistakes.  Mistakes are a big part of how we, as humans, learn and grow.  The great part about attachment parenting is that, because of the good relationship you worked so hard to have with your children, they will come to you when they make those mistakes and get themselves in over their heads.  But they need to be free to make those mistakes first.

Even in my constant OCD fueled fear, I know that my children are people, not possessions to be protected and locked away like a precious piece of jewelry in a museum.  While they are precious and infinitely valuable to me, they are still people.  We, as parents, and especially as attachment parents, need to know where to draw the line at our attachment.  The umbilical cord gets cut for a reason. 

My oldest child is a beautiful, creative, brilliant, and very adventurous four year old girl named Aria.  Aria is very much the poster child for attachment parenting.  We used the methods of attachment parenting with her, not because it was a trendy thing to do (in fact, we didn't know attachment parenting existed until she was about three), but because those particular methods worked for us.  In the midst of a very ugly battle with post partum depression, co sleeping and babywearing made me feel close to my baby and thus made me feel better.  For the longest time I couldn't stand to sleep without her at night or be separated from her at work. 

However, as most children inevitably do, she began to grow up.  We moved into an amazing neighborhood full of children of all ages, and she, of course, wanted to play with them.  The fully fenced in back yard that we were so excited about having, so she could play safely without us constantly watching over her, lay dormant (until Plankton the Jackabee and a pumpkin garden entered our lives, but that's another post) while she played with the neighbor kids in the front yard, near the (gasp) street.  She soon made friends with the kids across the street, so, with a little street crossing education, she began to play in their yards as well. 

Now my (not so little) baby girl wakes up in the morning, and instead of waking us up, she gets herself dressed (she has a great sense of style too), let's the dog out, grabs a snack, let's the dog back in, and goes on her little way, outside and across the street to play with her friends. 

She's four years old.

If my four year old can handle this huge chunk of independence, I'm fairly certain 22 year old Johnnykins can make it through a job interview alone.  The difference between an independent child like mine and an extremely dependent adult-child like Johnykins comes down to one thing.  It's not personality (Aria is painfully shy at times), and it's not intelligence (although she does have that- from her momma of course).  It's simply the fact that I, as a parent, have allowed and encouraged my daughter to stake out her own independence, even when what I really wanted to do was hold her on my lap and watch Barney like we did in the old days, and poor little Johnnykins' mom, did not. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Post Partum PMS & (De)attachment Parenting

Today is a day.  It's the kind of day where you wake up and promptly realize that you really should go right back to bed.

I woke up cranky and in pain.  My phone was still MIA from yesterday as it disappeared somewhere in between Aria's school party and the Trick or Treating Night of Doom (see yesterdays post).  The living room was (and still is) a mess as Aria likes to destroy everything I own and I seem to be the only one with any interest it keeping the house looking at least somewhat clean.  And everyone and everything is just annoying the piss out of me

I need a job just to get out of the house and away from my family.  I think a major part of being an attached family is everyone getting time to themselves.  Nate has work, Aria has school.  They get to get away from this house for a few hours a few times a week.  I'm stuck here and when I try to slip away to grab some ME TIME, I get chastised by Nate because he can't handle taking care of Parker for more than fifteen minutes at a time.  I haven't taken a bath alone in weeks.  And if I do its at 3 am and I know the baby is going to wake up any second. I seriously need a job. 

I freaked out on my family today because of a mix of PMS (for the first time since before concieving Parker) and just needing some time.  I hate myself when I'm super cranky and irritated at everyone.  And I'm pretty sure my family doesn't like it either.

In order for me to properly stay attached, I'm going to have to detach. 

Even if it's just long enough to finally wash my hair.

Trick Or Treat - - - No Boobs To Eat?

Today I grappled with the age old dilemma most parents face at some point or another during the adventure that is parenting.

How  the do you keep a breastfed baby happy while trick or treating with older children?

It seems like it wouldn't be too hard really, but let me tell you.  It is.  Older kids RUN from house to house, cutting through yards, leaping over landscaping, and pushing each other to get to the front of the line at each door with a lit porchlight and a pumpkin on the doorstep.  Babies don't run.  They demand to be fed when THEY want to be fed.  They don't care that their preschool aged sisters want to cram as much free candy into a pillowcase as they possibly can.  And preschool aged sisters don't care that their baby brothers want to stop and drink some Momma Milk.

We feed our son (who experienced his first Halloween at the ripe old age of not-quite-eight-weeks-old) the occasional bottle of formula.  So we thought we'd be ok.  Until we ran out of formula in a cul-de-sac fifteen minutes away from home (and the emergency can of Similac).  Our children also tend to dislike pacifiers, and the adorable generic Nemo one we brought was locked in the diaper bag in the car several culs-de-sac away (yes the plural of cul-de-sac IS, in fact, culs-de-sac).

So needless to say, by the end of the night, after a lot of butt patting, finger sucking, empty bottle nipple sucking, and cuddly bouncy walking, we (and by we I mean my husband and my best friend who took turns carrying the baby while I carried the candy bags- for security purposes of course) were exhausted and Parker was ready for some DAMNED MOMMA MILK!  If babies could talk, I'm fairly certain he would have screamed those exact words.

Next year he will be a year old.  He will probably go more than 30 minutes between feedings.  So any advice you can give me on this topic is moot for him.  However, what happens when we have another tiny baby joining us on our Trick Or Treating Extravaganza ( we were the first to start at 5pm and the last out at 9pm)?  So I've decided to throw out a few ideas I thought of after we were warm in our home for the night.

@  Learn to walk and breastfeed at the same time.  (I figured this one out right as we were hitting our last house of the night- Grandma & Papa's.)

@  Figure out a way to force the older children to take breaks. (Please tell me how in the comments section.  Please!)

@  Make sure you bring not just one bottle of formula or expressed milk, but two... or three... or maybe twenty.

Of course, I'm fairly certain that not all parents take their kids (and the neighbors kids, and the old neighbors kids) Trick Or Treating for FOUReff-ohhh-yooo-arr, FOUR hours straight.  But those who don't are definitely jealous of baby Parker's candy stash.

And since baby Parker is only 8 weeks old and he can't really eat candy...  He will be having Reese's, Kit Kat, and Hershey flavored breastmilk (without interruption) for the next few weeks.  :)

So, if any of you lovelies out there have any tips/suggestions/ideas on how to deal with breastfeeding and non-stop trick or treating, please, for the love of God (or whomever you choose to fill in that blank with), please, PLEASE, feel free to share in the comments!


Oh, and in case you were wondering, Parker was a Banana for Halloween.
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